Atlanta II: Ford - Kurt Busch interview

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus and most recent winner on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, goes into this weekend seventh in the point standings.  Busch, who trails sixth-place Jeff Gordon by 26 points, will start eighth in ...

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus and most recent winner on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, goes into this weekend seventh in the point standings.  Busch, who trails sixth-place Jeff Gordon by 26 points, will start eighth in Sunday's NAPA 500.

KURT BUSCH --97-- Rubbermaid Taurus

HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED AT YOUR SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS?  "It's been a bit of a surprise, but it's been a great year for us with all of the great runs we've put together and trying to be in competition with these guys.  When you're racing every week the goal is to be up front and when you're doing that, you're putting yourself in positions to win at places you don't expect." 

WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS TO?  "Obviously, having Jimmy Fennig and his experience.  This is just the second year I've got under my belt and I'm beginning to understand the cars more.  Aerodynamics and running at the speedways is more of my forte, but the short tracks have been great to us with the great finishes we've had." 

YOU TOOK PART IN A LITTLE TIKES PROMOTION ON BEHALF OF YOUR SPONSOR AND EVEN WORE A SANTA CLAUS HAT.  "It's been a great relationship.  With Newell Rubbermaid being a big sponsor on our car, they own 32 different companies so it's endless the amount of possibilities that we can have from internal organizations that want to participate in racing.  So it's really fun.  When they want to come and do a special paint scheme and want to get kids involved, that's the first one I'll volunteer for." 

WHAT ABOUT THE RACE ON SUNDAY?  "This is always a great race for me.  I didn't get to race here last fall just because of qualifying and not being able to make it in, but I don't think we'll have that problem this year.  We're gunning for a victory this time." 

HAVE YOU COME DOWN FROM THE WIN YET?  "It's been a great week and just being able to get that second victory and then getting back together and working with the team again on Tuesday and Wednesday was great.  We were testing at Homestead this week with the Little Tikes paint scheme car and it was business as usual.  The second win feels great and it feels much better than just the first one." 

IT'S ABOUT TIME FOR YOU TO WIN ON A TRACK LIKE THIS.  "It would be great.  We ran competitive here in the spring.  We were running third and just had a bad pit stop at the end.  We had a great pit stop that put us in position to win at Martinsville, so I know that the crew can do it again.  At the mile-and-a-halfs we've had great runs, but no good luck at them.  At Las Vegas, we were running third and had an alternator go bad.  It just seems like we can't quite put it together as far as things under the hood at the speedways, but I know what's happening and it'll come." 

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THIS YEAR?  "Each race has its own special victory within it and there are so many lessons learned.  There aren't one or two things that jump out as just being a great lesson, but I think when I went into January and had Jimmy Fennig there at the test with me, I knew the season was gonna be great from that point on." 

YOU SEEM LIKE GUY THAT WOULDN'T LIKE TO SEE QUALIFYING CANCELED.  "It's tough sitting out rain delays.  It seems like you just watch the Weather Channel and we're the biggest story every week.  Wherever the biggest story is, the Winston Cup Series is racing there.  It's just bad luck with that.  We've had a lot of opportunities this year to go for a pole and they haven't been necessarily taken away from us, but we've just never had the opportunity to go for it.   Charlotte was a great opportunity.  Jerry Nadeau probably would have gotten the pole that day, but it ended up getting washed out." 

HOW FAST WOULD QUALIFYING BE HERE AS FAR AS SPEED?  "When they freshly did the re-paving job here, Geoffrey Bodine laid down a record of 197 miles an hour and that will stand for quite some time, probably until they re-pave this place.  But I think qualifying would have been a heck of a lot faster than most recent years." 

AFTER THE RACE ON SUNDAY JACK MENTIONED THE MATURATION PROCESS YOU'VE GONE THROUGH THIS YEAR.  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?  "It's been a learning curve and it's been a time where I haven't stuck with that many racing series.  My life is racing.   That's all I can really describe and where I fit in and where I've made different mistakes, but being in my second year in Winston Cup racing, it's the most time that I've spent in a specific racing division.  I've been able to grasp it that much more because I've been here for a while.  You never know if you're gonna be staying in Winston Cup -- if you've got the stuff, so to speak, to cut the mustard.  Working with Jack and all the different individuals at Roush and going through a crew swap and meeting more people and working with different setups, it's made me more aware of what goes on and being able to take a step back when things are heated and intense and understanding more about it until I react to it." 

HOW MUCH OF A COMFORT LEVEL IS IT JUST KNOWING HOW TO GET AROUND THE GARAGE AND GET TO THESE TRACKS IN YEAR TWO?  "When we went out to Las Vegas, a place I great up racing at, it was obvious that there I was in a real comfort zone there.  Now it feels like that everywhere I go.  Whether it's Charlotte or Miami -- Martinsville is still a little bit iffy -- but now with that win, heck, it could be a great race track for us every time we go." 

WAS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN YOU WERE NOT CONFIDENT?  "I don't let confidence play a role in how my performance is because I try to approach every race with the mindset of trying to do the best that I can.  Whether it's a great race track for me or whether it's a track that I struggle at, I still try to get the best result that I can.  Even if we're on a string of three DNF's in a row, I still try to break it and try to go into the next race with an open frame of mind.  I think that's what has allowed myself to understand more about what I need to do on a specific lap or a specific given day.  It's just being more observant." 

YOU PUSH SELF-DOUBT OUT OF YOUR MIND?  "There are some days where it seems like things are getting tougher and tougher and I don't know what I need to know about certain stuff, but I have to say that I've only been here a year-and-a-half and there's plenty of time to learn things."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Geoffrey Bodine , Jerry Nadeau , Kurt Busch